Deshabandu Albert Page

Cargills (Ceylon)

When relatives discovered the diary of Deshabandu Albert Page after he had passed away in 2000, it was a bittersweet moment. They found in its pages his plans for a bank, and instructions that profits remain in the country and be reinvested for the benefit of a nation – amongst the other thoughts and plans he had confided to this his most intimate confidante.

As others had made their way to the commercial capital from other parts of the island, the shy young student schooling at Manipay Hindu College made his way from Jaffna to pursue the higher studies he yearned for.

In time, he qualified as a chartered accountant and a chartered secretary, and joined a firm – Page & Hulugalle – as a partner.

No doubt, the young man from Jaffna paid a visit to the majestic and iconic Cargills arcade at the intersection of Price and York Streets in the Colombo Fort with its distinctive burgundy and white façade, and boarded floors. It was the department store at which Colombo’s who’s who shopped; and it housed a milliner, a drapery, a bookstore and many other delights.

Today, Cargills (Ceylon) is a Sri Lankan retail, FMCG, banking and restaurant group, which is listed on the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE). But it has its roots way back in 1844 when British businessman William Milne established Milne & Company general warehousemen, importers of oilman stores and such, with branches in Kandy and Galle.

Six years later, Milne was joined by his friend David Sime Cargill and the firm became Milne, Cargill & Co. Then in 1860, when Milne retired from business in Ceylon and returned to Scotland, Cargill became the sole partner – until he was joined by David MacKenzie and the entity’s name was changed to Cargill & Co.

In 1981, Albert Page was appointed managing director and went on to become the Chairman of Cargills in 1982. His development oriented mindset led the company to explore the potential of innovating its trading legacy; and in 1983, Cargills established its supermarket chain with the opening of its outlet on Staple Street.

His intuitive leadership and visionary thinking are the hallmarks of the group’s sustainability orientation. Indeed, Cargills is synonymous with products expertly developed to suit the local palate. In 2008, Cargills acquired Millers, thereby consolidating its marketing and distribution operations.

Albert Page: a passion to contribute to community development.